Wednesday, July 31, 2013

MAN OR SHEEP? - The Ramadan Story, Part 16

Either God or your ego. Who is looking at you in the mirror of
your reality? 
Simply Untrue, There is Only You
There is no one else here but me,
So let me take the blame myself,

For however the world may turn,
Let me be the one to stop the flood,
Let me be the one to quench the fire,
Let me be the one to call the rain and end the drought,

For there is no one else here but You,
And I cannot rest thinking that You
Are to be blamed for anything at all.

So let me take the blame completely.

For if I don't, I have would have 
Inadvertently named You
As the cause and the consequence
For whatever calamity
That may befall me.

And that I cannot do.
For I know,
That is simply untrue,
For there is no calamity,
There is no tragedy,
There is no failure or success,
No more disappointments,
No real expectations,

For me,
There is only
You.
............................


Calamity after calamity. Tragedy after tragedy. Death, death and more death in the streets as conflict between Muslims goes unabated, even in this most blessed month of Ramadan. And that it is happening in the Middle East, in the cradle of Islam, makes it all the more sadder. So much for the sanctity of the holy month.

Default Villain. Politicians, political and current news pundits, as well as a healthy brace of preachers and preachers-wanna-be like to place the blame on the standard default villain. And depending on your political and religious credentials, they would be The West, America, Israel, Zionists, Al-Qaeda, the Communists, the Russians, the IMF, Barney the Dinasour, the Wahhabis, the Salafis, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Jihadis, the Neo-liberals, the Global Bankers, the Illuminatis, the Iranians, the Saudis, the Qataris, bla, bla, bla, yada, yada, yada, ad infinitum. Well, I am quite tired of all this blaming. 

The Devil hates sharing the limelight. 
Bleat if You are a Sheep. 99% of the time, when you are about to pull a trigger, there is no one there physically forcing you to do it. If you are flying a drone, you are not under threat of execution if you don't (well, maybe a court-martial for disobeying orders). If you are about to leave a bomb in a market place in a Baghdad neighbourhood, nobody has you in the cross-hair of a rifle sniper, just in case you have an attack of the conscience and decide not to place the bomb. You are the actor in this tragic drama, no one else. After all, what are you, man or sheep? I am only asking this because I am often confused myself.

At the end of the day, the plain simple truth is that most Muslims are dying being murdered by other Muslims. And I think the weary old justifications of 'Oh, its a complex hatred inherited through generations of them...' or 'The young are unemployed and disenfranchised...' or the much-used 'The Mossad / CIA / Hamas are behind it...' are frankly wearing thin. Not because such reasons are definitely untrue or that  there is no conspiracy, but rather, why do we as Muslims, need to follow this same old plot-lines? If we do know what is what and can see through the hole of a donut, then why do we fall for the same old cliche? So the question begs to be answered again, are we really men or sheep?

Have we become so cold and heartless that we are now deaf to our basic humanity?

Go sit in the corner, o' Muslims,
and think that maybe, just maybe,
change for the better begins
with you and no one else.
To be Human is to be Humane. I am not entirely convinced by people who keep on and on about trying to be better Muslims. About creating the so-called Islamic state and Islamic economy. I reckon we are already having a hard time distinguishing ourselves from common animals. 

Maybe we should try to be human and humane first. 

The world is not complex. It is Man and our weakness that complicates things. And in that complication, hundreds of thousands, and even millions have died.

Personal Change. If you consider yourself a Muslim, there is no running away from the blame. You must take it, for that is the path to true servanthood, where even personal change is possible insyaAllah (God Willing). And once you have been guided by Allah (s.w.t.) and His Beloved Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) to change yourself for the better?

Well, then you will find that nothing is impossible. In our Creator's scheme for you every tempest is now merely a storm in a tea cup. So don't drink from that tea cup. Choose another cup. Make your world in His image.


Have a lovely day, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

BREAKING FAST WITH CELESTIAL THOUGHTS - The Ramadan Story, Part 15


Time & the Heart
A second ago is not just one second long,
It can be as long as eternity
And shorter than even one second.

And a thousand years ago is not just one thousand years long,
For that too can be as long as eternity
And much, much shorter than one thousand years.

Such is the vast expanse of a believing heart,
Whose expansion and contraction cannot
Be counted or measured
By physical limits.

And alas, such is also the smallness of a heart
Constrained by hate, bigotry
And hubris,

Deceived by the pettiness of its piety
Or completeness of its knowledge.
..............................

How strange the month of Ramadan can be. For it pulls, stretches and manipulates the normal order of nature, the proper sequence of events, of cause and consequence, and of time itself.


Still many hours to go. Perhaps it is the hunger or thirst that makes the day long. The constant inquiring glance at the clock. Oh, no! Six more hours to go. Then again. Oh no! Still five hours and fifty-five minutes to go before iftar!(the breaking of the fast at sunset and upon the call of the Muezzin for the Maghrib prayers) For a smoker, this wait is often interesting (and always challenging). Even in the last 10 days of this fasting month. He he he.

Praying while fasting. For those pious Muslims, I think the best part of Ramadan is their prayers during fasting. How beautiful and melancholic it must be, to be praying in the state of fasting, their bodies and all their senses suddenly focused in the magical moment, on that intimate occasion and sweet transaction, between the created and the Creator, between the one of many and the Absolute One (Ahad). Each recitation, each posture and gesture that he (or she) makes, in perfect union with the Universe, prostrating before the Unimaginable Beauty of Allah (s.w.t.), before His Unrivaled Mercy, before His Infinite ways by which He shows His Love for all His creatures... How I envy them.


Celestial thoughts. I like to break fast alone sometimes. I am not being antisocial or that I dislike company. It is just sometimes, when I am sitting alone, taking that first sip of water and first crust of bread, I feel like I am breaking fast with celestial thoughts. How gentle is that moment and how reassuring for a sinner like me. It is as if, God is saying, "Who will keep him company? Surely he shall not break his fast alone."

I am not a good person. I wish I was. I only hope that God shall continue to show me the way to commemorate Him better, serve Him better and thank Him better!

For you see, there is still much room for improvement. 

Have a lovely day, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Friday, July 26, 2013

THE MASTER & THE MOUNTAIN PASS - The Ramadan Story, Part 14


Inmates of the Bachelor Pad. Many years ago, before my housemates achieved marriage, middle age and a sheen of respectability, they were all seekers. Seeking for God and truth. Seeking for the straightest path and best methodology towards understanding themselves, their place in this world and really, to answer that age-old question - What loophole can people who are patently sinners and ne'er-do-gooders use to get in synch with the Universe and God's Plan for us?


The Techno Saint & His Loophole. One of my housemate back then, whom I shall call the Techno Saint (for he is a shy and retiring flower, and does not court publicity) told us of one loophole in the Universal Grand Design of God that he discovered. Moses, who was there, was intrigued and asked for further and better particulars. Essential to the Techno Saint's scheme is to ensure a transparent and straight path between our endeavour and accountability to God's desk which says 'The Buck Stops Here'. To do this, says the Techno Saint, we merely ask of God to send us a Master. Someone who will love us and support us, and help manage our otherwise caprice-driven life towards some meaningful end. So no more confusing and perplexing issues of theology. No more nail-biting decisions about where to move, what job to take and whom to marry. He he he. I guess not only were we sinners. But we were also commitment-phobic, lazy and procrastinating bums, dithering nervously between life choices. "So..." concludes the Techno Saint, "... If God sends us our Master, then we are sorted! And if God doesn't send us our Master... well, it's not our fault anymore, is it? For we asked already, and God ignored us."

After 13 years, thanks... I was not part of the menage that night in our bachelor pad when this Loophole was first discussed. Nor did I share in any of the strange coincidences and dreams which finally led my housemates to a Shaykh. But I too finally found my way to a Shaykh in 2004, whom coincidentally, was the very same Shaykh that Moses and the Techno Saint was led to. But this was not an event that occurred overnight, rather it was something which was seeded in 1991 when my brother took me to meet the Shaykh and to whom I unknowingly gave bay'at (the oath of fealty between a student and a teacher). I was 21 years old then, and had little preconceptions whatsoever, and when my brother told me to put my hand on the right shoulder of the man in front of me (this was part of the congregational bay'at with the Shaykh) I simply did so with little thought of its meaning. After the short prayer session, my brother sent me back to my college, back to my friends, my books and my puppy-love for girls. I would not have guessed back then, the sheer enormity of what had actually transpired (and how could I have?), and I cannot have imagine the calm and coolness of Love from which it had flowed since. 

And now that I think about it, I have never really thanked my brother for that brotherly gesture. I know he didn't do it to save me. No, it was because he found this wonderful thing called Love and Compassion, and he simply wanted to share what he has found. So despite being rather late, here it is... Thanks, Abang Chik!

"MasyaAllah!" Said the fisherman. "I am not kidding. The fish that got away
must have been at least THIS BIG!"
Who is Your Master? So after this meandering tale, we come to the whole point of this dictation... how would you actually know that the Master is really the Master and not some crank or Saint-wannabe? How would you know that he is actually telling the truth about the fish that got away?

The Master & the Mountain Pass
I cannot tell you how I know,
I cannot tell you why I know,
I cannot tell you what I know,
For I am ever in the state of relative ignorance,
With unknowing coming after knowing,
Coming after unknowing and coming after knowing!

But in his eyes, I saw knowledge like a well whose depth is unknown,
And in his hands I felt the warmth of love,
And in his manners was discretion and subtlety
Sharper than the Steel of Toledo!

But above all, in his heart I sensed
An understanding, an enveloping compassion for me 
Despite all my wretchedness...

For he does not turn away in disgust,
Taking me as I am, beginning from that day,
Through the darkest valley of my conceit,
Through the highest path of the mountain pass.
 .....................................

Yeah. The answer, such as it is, is not easy, sunshine. After all, love must have its drama. Shakespeare knew this. The Shaykhs knew this, and certainly Allah (s.w.t.) and Muhammad Habibullah (s.a.w.s.) also knew this... setting humanity on our merry way, unwittingly towards love and all its tribulations, those essential ingredients which makes love and life both meaningful and joyful. 

Go on... knock on the door... You cannot resist Love, you know. And if you can resist Love's blandishments, then it is not Love at all and this door is not for you. But never fear, for Allah (s.w.t.) will always have a door for you. You need only to ask. After that, it is just a question of time before you find the right one for you.


Have a lovely day, sunshine.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

KNOWLEDGE, LOVE, FORTITUDE, WORDS & BREATH - The Ramadan Story, Part 13


Not Until I Have Returned
Knowledge, don't betray me,
Don't make me believe that I know,
Not when I am often confused,
Wondering if I should stay, loiter or go.

Love, don't deceive me,
Don't make passion to be my guide,
Not when the path to happiness is patience,
Patience to wait and to see what is wrong 
And what is right.

Fortitude, don't forsake me,
Don't leave me when the going gets tough,
Don't leave me to my own vices,
So easily falling when the path gets rough.

Words, don't fail me now,
Don't leave me speechless when I need you most,
Not when there is still many prose to be written,
About God, about the Prophet, 
About the Garden and the Rose.

Breath, don't leave me yet,
Not until I have said what needs to be said,
Not until I have written what needs to be written,
To complete my earthly travel, 
Before finally crumbling in a state of prostration,
Crying out, ya Allah! ya Rasulullah... 

I have returned!
...........................

When Heche gave me The Hobbit poster last night (see earlier posting, He Hu Never Lets Us Sinners Down...), I was so happy. And I said to her later over the phone, "You know, I not only like this present. I am impressed!"

Even  without seeing her face, I knew she would be smiling extra wide, with a sense of gratification. Gratification because she has always considered me a smart sort of fellow. Which is of course a mistake. For I don't think I am smart at all. For however much knowledge that I have been able to trawl from the ocean of knowledge, I still cannot answer this very simple question about Heche...

Why is she still with me?

After all, I am not rich, I am not good-looking. I am overweight and have serious health issues.  I can be grumpy, especially when I am fasting. And I can be impatient with boring conversation. 

I think until the day that I wheeze out my final sonorous breath, I will still have this question troubling me. 

Oh well, at least then I can get to ask God. He would be able to answer, no doubt. And indeed, while I have the opportunity, I might also bother Him with these burning queries...

Why do You care and love me so?
How are You able to overlook all my sins?
How can You still attend to me when I have often left You?
Who am I that You see that I myself do not see?

I guess what little Knowledge, Love, Fortitude, Words and Breaths I have left shall continue to sustain me until that day. 

So until then, walk with me, sunshine. And forgive me my contratemps, such as they shall be.


wa min Allaha at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

HE HU NEVER LETS US SINNERS DOWN - The Ramadan Story, Part 12

Uh oh. That's a lot of candles!
Numbers. Numbers are important. Especially to God, for it is through bearing witness to His Absolute Oneness and Utter Uniqueness (which is even beyond our bare estimation of what is common and what is unique), that makes you a believer in Him, in our One God. What makes you on the way to be a Muslim (for it is of course a journey), is to bear witness that Muhammad bin Abdullah (s.a.w.s.), is His Messenger.  

Clingy. Numbers are important to me too. Especially yesterday, when I crossed the threshold of 42 into the brand new me of 43 years old. I don't know why, but since hitting 40 I feel like time is accelerating, and I am being flung across the time-space continuum when I am still barely getting over not being a 30-something. Dismayed by the ever increasing numbers of candles on my birthday cake, I am becoming more and more attached to the number One, a.k.a. Allah (s.w.t.), the Most Loving, Most Assuring One. Perhaps not just attached... perhaps even clingy... Oh God! Don't leave me to these distracting and confusing numbers! 

Clingy. You get this way with age. He he he.
One. But numbers can also be good fun (and a good read). For instance, do you know that the number of words that make up The Hobbit bestseller by J.R.R. Tolkien? It is 95,694 words according to Wiki.Answers.Com. And from this same source, I also found out that the number of pages of The Hobbit depends on what edition you have, but they tend to be somewhere in the range of 270 to 330 pages. The reason why I am sharing with you this oh-so-interesting information (wait, wait, don't fall asleep yet!) is because last night Heche gave me my birthday present. It was the entire book printed on a single poster. For a Lord of the Rings acolyte, this is considered Tolkien-nirvana.

You can't read it from this small jpeg, but it's all there... the entire book. The poster is jusr
below 4 feet tall and more than 2 feet wide I reckon. When framed it must be mounted
on a wall in a library. And just when I was thinking of ending my tenancy at the Hermitage in
the Sky, Heche gives me a reason to stay on. There is a library, you see, in the Hermitage.
One But Any Number and Beyond Infinity. We had my (second) birthday dinner at my neighbourhood Mamak (Indian-Muslim) restaurant which is well known more for its location and service than its food or drink (I am being honest here). It is a bare spartan establishment, but I have had many a cuppa there and for this birthday I just wanted something friendly and familiar. So myself, Heche, Fifi, Efa and Kamarul purchased some food from the Ramadan Bazaar and enjoyed a cheerful break-fast there, thanks to the flexible interpretation of the no-outside-food rule by Iqbal the manager. So you see, the number 6 made me very happy yesterday too. For God is indeed the One, but when it comes to blessings, His measure is any number and beyond infinity.

HU. Allah (s.w.t.) is Hu (He). And Hu is He Hu never lets us down... masyaAllah, even if I am just a dog barking at the door of the Master.

Woof Woof!

That is sinner talk to mean "Right now I am simply happy. Thank you."

I was alone in the rain. Then You came and said You were my Friend.
Have a lovely day today, sunshine, and while you are at it, have a nice life too. For only God can truly compensate you for finding a place in your heart for an incorrigible sinner like me. Woof woof!

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Sunday, July 21, 2013

IGNORANCE IS BAD, BUT AWARENESS OF IGNORANCE IS SOMETHING ELSE - The Ramadan Story, Part 11


Pleasing to Thee
Make me pleasing to Thee,
Make my thoughts inviting to Thee,
Make my words speak of Thee,
Awake, asleep or drifting in a dream!

Make me pleasing to Thee,
Make my gestures thoughtful of Thee,
Make my longing only for Thee,
Make me regret each moment
I am away from Thee! 

Make me pleasing to Thee,
Make my heart Thy abode,
Make my eyes Thy lantern,
Make me Thy grateful servant!

Make me pleasing to Thee,
Make my smiles Thy laughter,
Make my solitude Thy intimacy
And a secret consummation
My tears, the river
Streaming through the heaven
Of Thy Divine Presence!
...........................

Love. When people read love prose, they assume that the poet is 'there', and they say, "Oh, how I wish I am there too."


Ignorance is bad. But Awareness of Ignorance is Something Else. But true love is neither here nor there. It is not confined to time or space. And that is why the very best lovers of this world love the Infinite and Beyond the Infinite. They are loved and fall in love with Knowledge and what is beyond Knowledge. It would be madness for our reason had not Allah (s.w.t.) assure us that beyond understanding is Adab (good manners and courtesy). Adab for the Guider and the guided. Adab for the Best Guide, who is none other than Muhammad Sayyidina Alamul Huda s.a.w.s. (Flag of Guidance) and for his beloved Nation, those who are forever seeking his guidance. But this 'forever seeking' also means a certain degree of ignorance. After all, if you know what you are doing, where is the faith in that? Where is the love? What would you seek?

The Knowledge of Ignorance. This is the knowledge of one's ignorance, and an important step towards abasing our ego and hubris of 'knowing stuff' and 'knowing it all'. In truth, we hardly even know 'knowing' at all. Such is our dire state and need for Allah (s.w.t.) and His Habibullah (s.a.w.s.).

Half-Life at 43. We do not want to die. But we do not want to live a half-life. A life bereft of God Almighty and His Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.). And as I countdown my 43rd year today, I hope to let go and let God in. Pray for me, sunshine? For by God, I am in need of your kind thoughts and wishes always...

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

THE DESERT IS COMING UNLESS WE CHANGE. BEGINNING WITH THE MOSQUE - The Ramadan Story, Part 10


My Paradise is My Mosque
There is no desert in my heart. 
For my land is a rainforest, full of tropical trees, flower and fauna. 
Green rivers and streams meander across my heart from the hills that dot my land. 
Valleys and ravines follow the water, clean and pure like the rain 
That showers regularly on the emerald roof of the jungle. 
Birds and mousedeers, tigers and elephants co-habitat, flowers, leaves 
And fruits of wondrous variety, colour and benefit hang from the branches 
Waiting for my eye and ministration. 

For I am not only the master of my heart and my land,
I am also its custodian and servant. 
My eyes takes rest and pleasure gazing on this Earth, 
Its riches spilling over into the tenuous civilization raised by Man. 

And were I to build a mosque here, a House of God, 
I would not build high walls to separate the mosque from the forest, 
Nor find the need to decorate it with the pictures of paradise. 

For my land is both my paradise and my mosque 
And wherever I am praying, 
I want to see heaven all around me.
...........................

God...?
From the Desert I Came. The religion of Islam is often associated with the desert. For it was in the desert dunes of Arabia that the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) completed the message and deen of Islam, thereby completing the comprehensive beliefs and rites that make up the faith. There is an old saying, which I cannot remember who said it, that God created the forest for Man, but created the desert for Himself. And I guess when you are thinking of setting the atmosphere for contemplation of Man's vulnerability and insignificance, nothing beats a night in the desert, alone with a billion stars twinkling in the heavens above. Questions like "Who am I?'', "Why am I here?" and "Who is out there?" will come to your heart as naturally as breathing.


The Arabian Heaven. The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus is not one of the three Great Mosques of Islam (the Masijidil Haram in Mecca, the Masjid Nabi in Medina and the al-Aqsa in Jerusalem), but in context of the End of Time sequence, it will play a significant role because it is here that Muslims anticipate the Second Coming of Jesus (Isa a.s.). But my interest in the Umayyad Mosque is not about its prophetic relevance, but the design. In particular, the interior walls on which is engraved with green and gold depictions of Paradise, of palm trees overflowing with dates, clear blue rivers of Jannah running through the gardens, and mansions and palaces on the hills for the believers. It is a religious propaganda (and I mean this well) and a spiritual assurance for the believers, as they pray, rest and learn beneath the pillars of the Mosque, a visual persuasion playing upon the Arab's ideal of paradise... "Ah, lovely, beautiful, inspiring..." they must be thinking.


The Tropical Paradise. But it is a little different here. For in Malaysia, as in most tropical and equatorial regions, there is no desert. There is no sand dunes or far-off desert horizons to inspire us. The forest and the jungle is right next door. And some of us ethnic aboriginals even live in the jungle. Tall rain forest trees of hundred years old tower over dense undergrowth. And through them run gentle streams and rivers full of fish, turtles and even alligators. Is this not paradise (well, sans the mosquitoes, alligators, tigers and leeches!) already? So even if you are expelled from your village, in days of yore, you would not starve to death. You will undoubtedly be inconvenienced, but you will live. (My little caveat here is that this might not be the case now for soft, fleshy city folks like me... I would probably misstep and fall into a ravine within hours. And get eaten by tigers. But you get the picture)

An Architectural Proposition for the Mosque. I am not an architect, so all I can venture is a proposition for an open concept Mosque which sits in sympathy with its tropical surroundings. It can be of any size, but the surroundings must be a tropical garden and a running stream drifting around the mosque and perhaps even through it. And the view from inside the mosque must rest upon the bountiful brilliance of the rain forest however far the congregation can see. The mosque must be built with wood and stone, with river pebbles shining darkly from the lower part of the walls while timbered pillars rise up to the wooden beamed roof. But from within the mosque, one ought to be able to see and hear the surrounding garden with its crickets and frogs. Especially at night. After all, the sound of nature is the sound of dzikr (recitation and remembrance of God's Names)

Shutting out Paradise. One of the reason why the proposition encompasses the outside surroundings of the mosque is because the truth is Muslims have been too lazy in caring and nurturing the environment. The mosque should not be a building to shut out the world and dream for paradise. Especially not in this tropical country. Not when just outside most mosques and suraus (small mosques), we find litter, pollution, environmental destruction and ecological disasters staring in the face of the Ummah (the Muslim nation). 


The Desert is Coming. So in reality are we shutting out the outside world because we cannot now bear to look upon the handiwork of our modern society on this paradise garden that we have been given? Are we turning our beautiful forests and jungles into deserts? If so, then we need not wait too long. The desert is coming if we do not change our ways.

Beginning with the Mosque. I reckon we can begin to accept our responsibility for the Earth this way - From the mosque, and if we believe in Allah (s.w.t.) and the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.), from our conscience which must always be in sympathy for all of creation and all of God's creatures that we share this planet with. 

I think that this makes more sense than all the political and often violent upheavals that are presently besieging the Ummah. After all, what is the point of Islam in a world already despoiled and destroyed..? 

Don't you agree, sunshine?


Wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way  

Friday, July 19, 2013

THE MIRACLE OF DEATH AND SAYYIDINA SA'ADULLAH(SAWS) - The Ramadan Story, Part 9

Good looking one, isn't he?
al fatiha
15. We need heroes and flags
We need heroes.

But the heroes need you
To remember them
As men of flesh and blood.

In this lies their
High station of spirit
And faith.

For they have the ability
To be themselves,

In form and in substance,
In what is apparent
And in what is hidden,

Seeing only the thin gloss of mortality
Upon God’s Own Looking Glass,
Between the Here and the Hereafter,
Between now, and what is promised
To you and me.
.....................................

Ramadan, 2008. So recorded the sinner on this very same blessed month of Ramadan, five years ago in 2008. It was part of three prose that sought to clarify and illuminate the relationship between the apprentice and the master, between the mureed and the shaykh, between the seeker and the guru. 

14. Between the needy and the free
You may take me as your leader,
Your captain in the trenches,
Your class monitor.

…But in the consecration
Between the needy and the free,
The earth and the heavens,
And in what you see
As my form and body,
And what you cannot see,
Is the miracle of the Lord
Immeasurable in
His Divine
Creativity.
...................................

A moment in the Tariqat. Five years on, I think my thoughts on the Masters are still the same. But my belief that each one of us, however good or bad we are, will always need a Master - a hero to look to as a guide is perhaps even stronger now. And with the passing of my closest Master last year, almarhum Shaykh Raja Ashman Shah ibn Sultan Raja Azlan Shah, the lingering words about '...the thin gloss of mortality' and '...in what you see as my form and body, and what you cannot see," take on a deeper meaning. It would not have crossed my wildest imagination that only four years after writing the words I would bear witness to his passing.

Everyone, even Masters of the Path, has had to bear the passing
of someone close to them. al fatiha
The Miracle of Death. People often speak of the miracle of life. Of the very improbable sequence of events from the creation of the Universe which ultimately led to our own birth and life. But now that I am contemplating about this, I guess even death too, must also be part of that sequence of miracles. And truly I swear... it is the miracle of the Lord Immeasurable in His Divine Creativity.

And in this regard, the miracles have already embraced so many of my beloved kin and friends. In this we may count my dear loving mother who died in 2002, and my old buddy, Nakesh Singh, who passed away in 1986 at the young age of 16.

Mumsie at South England coast, 1995. al fatiha
So here we are then, sunshine. Just a traveler between birth and death - between a beginning and a homecoming brightly reflecting Allah Almighty's utterly magnificent manifestation of His Divine Mercy and Miraculous Love for all humanity.

So what really do we have to worry about now, save to always be in His pleasure? And it is toward this end that we thank our guide, and we give our ultimate thanks to the Guide of Guides, the Master of Masters, God's Own Manifest Pleasure, Muhammad Sayyidina Sa'adullah* (s.a.w.s.) (*The Joy of Allah). 

My master, Shaykh Raja (q.s.) may have left me here in this worldly plane. But I know with certainty, that death is not an address, but just a doorway. A threshold that we shall all pass over one day.

al fatiha

May Allah (s.w.t.) bless your day and your fasting tomorrow.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

THE GARDEN OF PRAYER & THE ENDURING SALAWAT - The Ramadan Story, Part 8


O' Prophet, if I could, I would
If I could wrap myself around you, I would,
Like a ring of gold and silver
On your little finger,
To mark our engagement
And long-sought union...

Or like a humble black string
A little forget-me-not,
Tied with the Knot of God
By you, o' Master...

I am saying all this because
I don't know what else to say,
Your love, your beauty and mercy
Confound my words
Day after day after day...
........................

Double Assurance. Is there a place better than this for us, o' Muslims? On one hand, you can praise God Almighty with beautiful praises, and the Prophet will undoubtedly say, "This thing that you say and do, this is good!" On the other hand, you can also venerate and plead for glorious blessings from God for the Prophet (s.a.w.s.), and God too will say, "This thing that you say and do, this is good!" It is a double divine assurance. A back to back warranty that you are in a good place and heading to a better place.

The Garden of Prayer & Praise. And however you sincerely sing Allah's (s.w.t.) absolute praises and venerate Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) - there is simply no full-stop to your inspiration or veneration. Your every breath is there to magnify God Almighty and His Beloved (s.a.w.s.), your every gesture, movement and thought can become a Garden of Prayer. And in such a place, you become the gardener, the tiller, the seed, the bloom, the flower and the fruit! Perhaps your only worry is the average life-expectancy in your country. For you are blessed with the certainty that however hard you try, till your voice is raised by the Angels to the heavenly sky, no amount of prayer or praise will suffice to mirror His Love... Leaving you ultimately gasping for words...  


May the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) be surrounded by his garden of praise, from one invisible horizon to the other invisible horizon. Is this life not well-lived already if we have perished only to be a flower in such a garden? Amidst an infinite bloom of salawats showered upon him already by Allah (s.w.t.) Himself and His Host of Angels? 

Lo! Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet.
O ye who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him
with a worthy salutation!
(Quran 33:56 Marmaduke Pickthall)

Compensating for Sincerity? On a final note, I might add that it doesn't matter if you are not a wordsmith or a poet, that you cannot string two eloquent words  together to save your life. For it is the sincerity of the speaker that really matters, not the words themselves. And I guess I go overboard textually because I am compensating for my lack of sincerity? Perhaps this is okay... after all, you cannot spell sincerity without sin.

And in each breath, our journey is just beginning. 


Have a lovely day, sunshine, and a blessed fast.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A COCKTAIL OF TEARS, A SEA OF LOVE & LAUGHTER - The Ramadan Story, Part 7


Only If They Ask, Part 2
...And if they ask why are your eyes closed,
Tell them that you don't want to open them
For fear of unleashing another flood
That neither seawall nor dyke can stem.
...................................


1. A Cocktail of Tears. Mix a little knowledge, add a bushel of sins. Pour a sea of neglect. Sprinkle some remembrance. Top off with a cherry of regret. Stir ingredients in a colourless crystal goblet, and you would get me. When this is me, you must ask why I don't cry more. 

2. Here and There. Everywhere. But I don't. In fact in my life, there is still a lot to smile and even laugh at. Something to warm the cockles of my heart. Something to reignite my faith in my humanity, in my brothers and my sister. I think it is perhaps because however we may be, sweet or sour, good or bad, forgetful or grateful, ugly or beautiful, God is always there. I mean here. With me. And I also mean there, with you. It gets kinda confusing with God and with True Love. For He is one and the same, the Unique One. Transcending the elemental time and space of this physical world. It is easy for Him, He is after all, God.

3. Choose battles that you can win. But the world is not sitting still, letting you go so easily. It throws at you the horrors and hatred, the bigotry and hubris, the greed and selfishness, the apathy and lethargy, the tired old sad stories. So do yourself a favour this month, don't read the newspapers. It is good to be knowledgeable. But sometimes too much knowledge makes us weary. Especially bad news. Especially when we can do almost nothing about it. So my thought for today is - let us choose battles that we can win. And that starts with ourselves. Quit drinking. Quit smoking. Quit neglecting our body. Quit wasting time. Quit sleeping too much. Quit procrastinating. Quit bitching (does this count?). Quit judging people. 

"Don't even think about it." said the Angel of Quitting Bad Things

4. Stop it. It is funny that the biggest battle is really about quitting something. But sometimes quitting is necessary to begin a better life. God willing, I think this is true. Note to self - God and Goodness always wins when bad men (read me) stop doing bad things. 

5. Loveliness... I started this posting with a typically melancholy love prose as befitting my quasi-sufi pretensions. But it is Ramadan the Blessed. And this month refuses to allow me to wallow in sadness. And I am glad that I can end the almanac with loveliness instead. The Loveliness of Allah (s.w.t.), the Loveliness of Muhammad Habibullah (s.a.w.s.) and the loveliness that is all you, ministered between Ahad and Ahmad, between the Chooser and the Chosen.


May you have a beautiful day, sunshine.Tears or laughter, it is all about Love after all.

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way

Monday, July 15, 2013

JUST TRY... AND LEAVE THE REST TO ME! - The Ramadan Story, Part 6

Mikhail, bless his heart, tries. And holds 100% clean record
for fasting so far this month. But either way, he is already my success.

Only If They Ask
If they ask if you are mad, tell them that you are in love,
If they ask if you are a bandit, tell them that your law is love,
If they ask if you are lost, tell them that your destiny is love,
If they ask of your journey, tell them that your path is love,
If they ask more, tell them that you are like a knot being undone,
Like a book being returned to the library,
Like a river flowing to the sea,
Like a number collapsing into the One,
Whatever that number might be... two, three or infinity!
.....................................................

Nikmat Puasa. It was a quiet breaking of the fast yesterday. And in the moment after the end of the muezzin's call of the evening prayers, a moment loaded with meaning could be sensed. And that meaning was the overwhelming peace and happiness of water from the river of paradise running over a parched soul. Is that a good description, sunshine? Aah. Maybe this is what the Muslims mean when they say nikmat puasa (the pleasure of fasting). And it was not the food or drink that they partake to end the fast, but instead their perception of completeness of Allah's (s.w.t.) blessing to humanity - a third eye being opened somewhere in the deep recesses of our consciousness to realise the goodness of God that our ancestors already knew long, long ago. Alhamdulillah.

A particularly excellent entourage
of those who try.
Just Try. I cry a lot nowadays. And if you count the number of times tears well up in my eyes, it is even more. Happily, most of the tears are tears of joy from some personal realization. You know, things like... I am lucky to be alive. I am fortunate to have God in my life. I am blessed to be a believer. And at the end of the day, whatever the test may be, Allah (s.w.t.) is only asking that I try. "Just try, kiddo, and leave the rest to Me... " I reckon God would say.

Earned Love. Those not familiar with the mystical path of Islam like to insinuate that Love is easy-peasy lemon-squeezy. They imagine Sufis to be bearded beatniks or hippies. But the truth is Love is not the easiest path. It is after all the foundation and building blocks of faith. So God has made Love to be sturdy, resilient and ever-lasting. And God has also made Love to be something that is earned.

May we all earn a place in His Love through the intercessions of His Own Beloved, Muhammad Habibullah (s.a.w.s.). And though ultimately, we can never truly earn either... we must try. Like I said, God is simply telling us, "Just try... and leave the rest to Me..."

wa min Allah at-taufiq

Hate has no place in Islam
Love will show the Way